A Nineteenth-Century Vision of the Year 2000
This featherweight non-book reproduces a series of advertising cards designed by French commercial artist Jean Marc Cote in 1899 to celebrate the new century and to offer lighthearted predictions about what life would be like "en l'an 2000." An introduction by Asimov discusses the perils and pleasures of such prognostication; each entry is also accompanied by an Asimov commentary. The cards themselves are amusing. In a schoolroom, a professor supervises a workman loading books into a machine: the students are wired into the machine and are "learning" the material through electrical impulses. Cote "foresaw" letters-by-phonograph, a "motor sledge" expedition to the South Pole, family excursions to the bottom of the sea (surely unnecessarily, Asimov informs us that you can't really ride sea-horses). Finally--under the caption "A Curiosity"--citizens in the year 2000 assemble in a theater for an exhibition of rarity, a horse. Asimov is, as always, a genial guide through this scientific and quasi-scientific information; but his emphasis on "this won't really happen" seems unnecessary, as does his extended commentary on material commissioned by a toy company and obviously intended as an amusing trifle, not as a serious prediction.